Lifestyle & Belief

Texas ends last meal tradition on death row


A jar of Sevruga caviar imported from Russia, December 21, 2004.


Sean Gallup

Texas inmates who are about to be executed will no longer get to choose a last meal, following a complaint from a state senator about the latest in a series of outrageous requests.

On Wednesday, Texas executed Lawrence Russell Brewer, a white supremacist who had chained a black man, James Byrd Jr., to the back of a pickup truck and dragged him to his death.

(More from GlobalPost: Hate crime killer Lawrence Brewer has been executed in Texas)

For his last meal, Brewer requested two chicken fried steaks, a triple-meat bacon cheeseburger, a cheese omelet, a large bowl of fried okra, three fajitas, a meat-lovers’ pizza, a pound of barbecue with a half loaf of white bread, a pint of Blue Bell ice cream and a slab of peanut butter fudge with crushed peanuts, The Associated Press reports. He didn’t eat any of it, prison officials said.

Other Texas inmates have asked for even more food and, years ago, an inmate requested dirt for his final meal, the AP reports.

On Thursday, Sen. John Whitmire, chairman of the state’s Senate Criminal Justice Committee, called Brad Livingston, the executive director of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, and followed up with a letter demanding that the tradition be stopped immediately, MSNBC reports.

“It is extremely inappropriate to give a person sentenced to death such a privilege,” Whitmire wrote.

“Enough is enough,” Whitmire told the AP. “Mr. Byrd didn’t get to choose his last meal. The whole deal is so illogical.”

Within hours, Livingston responded, MSNBC reports. "I believe Senator Whitmire's concerns regarding the practice of allowing death row offenders to choose their last meal are valid,” he said in a statement. “Effective immediately, no such accommodations will be made. They will receive the same meal served to other offenders on the unit."

While the tradition has ended in Texas, the recipes live on.

According to the AP:

A former inmate cook who made the last meals for prisoners at the Huntsville Unit, where Texas executions are carried out, wrote a cookbook several years ago after he was released. Among his recipes were Gallows Gravy, Rice Rigor Mortis and Old Sparky’s Genuine Convict Chili, a nod to the electric chair that once served as the execution method. The book was called “Meals to Die For.”